Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Mothers (05/02/05)
TITLE: Nate's Epiphany
By Val Clark
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This one looks interesting. A mum with spiky hair like she’s had an electric shock. ‘Mother you are special/not just on this day in May/it’s on every day of every year/that you brighten up my day!’ Nup. No way. Sentimentality’s not her strong suit. She’d pretend to gag before she finished reading the first line.
I smother a laugh at the perfect card, turn it over, look at the price and nearly have a heart attack. You gotta be joking! I dig the coins out of my pocket and count them. I have just enough for the card and postage. On the other hand, there’s no food at home. I could buy a pizza for that. Hands clenched in my jeans pockets I slope out of the shop. I’ve got two days to find a card and post it. I head over to the discount stores. More sentimental rubbish at half the price. I can’t win but at least we would have soup for dinner.
I’m studying graphic design. I could create my own card. Mum probably wouldn’t mind. She was sentimental that way – saving every present, card, decoration and painting I’d made. My only overhead would be postage. There’d be pizza for dinner – just. Problem: I’d have to think of something snappy to write in it.
The graphic on the front has to describe what she’s really like. I play around with several ideas before settling for one of her in jeans, kneeling and weeding the vegetables. She said she feels closest to God in the garden plus nobody ever disturbs her. That’s because when we do we get roped into helping her. For a moment I daydream, imagining her on the other side of the continent digging away and chatting about me.
‘I’m a bit worried about, Ben, the boy Nate’s sharing the house with, Jesus. He sounded drunk when I called yesterday and it was only 10am. This is a difficult time for Nate, finding his own way in the world, but I know he’s carved in the palm of your hands.’
That was a favorite of hers. ‘Can’t forget anything carved in the palm of your hands, Nate.’
I added long pink earplugs to the graphic. Mum would laugh at that. I’m a drummer and mum was cool about us practicing at home. Heavy Metal wasn’t quite her style so she pottered around the yard with funny plugs sticking out from her ears, her dog padding faithfully behind. The guys in the band laughed, but not unkindly. She always stuck her head in the door, said ‘Hi,’ and chatted for a few minutes.
She believed in having an open house, she said, and my friends rarely abused that. I suppose I did. Some Sunday mornings she’d get up and there’d be wall to wall people sleeping in the family room. She never freaked out. Somehow there was always plenty of milk and breakfast cereal to go around.
I place a graphic next to my image of her. It’s sort of like me. She’ll get the message. Skinny, clothes three sizes too big, long hair pulled back into a low, stringy pony tail, cool shades and holey jeans. I’m kneeling next to her, turning over the soil. Am I praying? I think I might be. Yeah, I am. Praying for her and Dad and… Ben. And for me, because my future seems so clouded and I’d like it to be clear.
I fiddle with the graphic, tidying it up until I’m satisfied. I can’t put off the inevitable any longer. The caretaker will be locking the computer rooms any minute now. I find a funky font and type 'Broke as usual, Mum. This is all I could do for Mother’s Day. When I’m rich I’ll buy you a Ferrari.' It’s not quite right. My fingers hover over the keyboard. 'Don’t worry about me. Like you said, I’m in good Hands. Love you, Nate.'
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